Library & Information Services

By the Numbers

  • > 50% of titles in the library catalog are digital
  • > 60,000 pages of student records from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School have been scanned and digitized
  • 62 faculty members have completed the Willoughby Institute for Teaching with Technology.

President’s Vision

Nancy A. Roseman 

Dickinson must keep pace with the ever-increasing speed of technological change while providing the tools students will need to think critically and creatively in a world awash with information. To support a world-class faculty and a vibrant intellectual community, the college also must think critically and creatively about its scholarly resources—from maintaining robust digital and print collections to offering innovative programs and services.


Robert Renaud


I recently had the opportunity to revisit an article I co-authored in 1996 about the future of academic libraries. Over the last 18 years, the explosion in digital collections and services, facilitated by the Internet, has fundamentally reshaped the academic library. Besides being a facility where students use scholarly resources, it is used for classroom instruction by faculty, musical and artistic events, photographic exhibits and receptions. In its services and spaces the academic library has become the center of intellectual life on campus, and our thoughtful application of technology prepares our students for a world that is increasingly shaped by rapidly changing, emerging technologies.

Instead of the “one size fits all” template used in many colleges and universities, Dickinson’s Library & Information Services (LIS) tailors its services. For example, each academic department is assigned an individual librarian and an instructional technologist, both of whom develop collaborative relationships with individual faculty members and can anticipate their needs. Every two years we conduct a deep-dive survey to shape programs and services, and the library constantly assesses the usefulness of its digital collections by measuring use. These data are used to shape our collections going forward. 

The Willoughby Institute for Teaching with Technology, which is funded by the Edwin Eliott Willoughby Memorial Fund of the Dickinson College Library, is a year-long opportunity for faculty to develop effective, media-rich courses. The program provides training and support to help faculty design and deliver courses that use technology to engage students in active learning. Topics include copyright, digital storytelling, podcasting, 3-D printing and the use of video in teaching. Each faculty member is paired with an instructional technologist to redesign courses over the next two semesters, and members of each Willoughby class meet during the academic year to share ideas and experiences. Since its launch seven years ago, 62 faculty members have completed the program.

Archives & Special Collections has become a pioneer among liberal-arts colleges in the large-scale digitization of its collections, including the Dickinson Scholar, a digital repository of scholarly work by faculty and students, and the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center, a Web site dedicated to posting all available records of the children who attended the Carlisle Industrial Indian School (CIIS) between 1879 and 1918. To date, about 4,400 CIIS records have been scanned—over 60,000 pages—from the records held at the National Archives and Records Administration. Archives also partnered with the LGBT Center of Central PA History Project, which received the 2014 J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award from the Society of American Archivists.

The Media Center provides spaces for students and faculty to create videos, podcasts and blogs, as well as to use gaming for instructional purposes. This facility also includes the Makery, a space in which members of the campus community are encouraged to experiment with 3-D printing, robotics and “wearable technology.” The Makery prepares students and faculty for the “Internet of everything,” in which technology is embedded in vehicles, appliances and even clothing.

LIS also has created a program for liaison librarians oriented to the needs of our international students, and several information-literacy seminars are taught in other languages, including Spanish and German. Our librarians teach students in their First-Year Seminars and other courses how best to use scholarly resources and to navigate complex databases, and several LIS staff members are contributing faculty in academic departments such as earth sciences and computer science. 

The Waidner-Spahr Library and the Media Center support the college’s rich curriculum and assist students and faculty to leverage new and emerging technologies. At the same time our emphasis on personalized, face-to-face service mirrors Dickinson’s intensive student-faculty interaction in and beyond the classroom. The energy, willingness to experiment and spirit of innovation seen in the Waidner-Spahr Library and the Media Center make this an exciting time to be at Dickinson.